Category Archives: Favourite recipes

My most flavourful recipes

This year’s not Christmas dinner

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Spicy chickpea snack


Boil 500 g chickpeas with 3 tsp pink himalayan salt in plenty of water for two hours (do not soak first). Drain thoroughly and let cool.

Stem and deseed 10 dried árbol and 2 dried guajillo chilies and dry-roast them till they start turning darker.

Dry-roast 1 tsp cumin seeds.

When the spices have cooled completely, grind them to a fine powder together with 2 tsp pink himalayan salt.

Heat 1 l corn or sunflower oil to 175 C. Add the chickpeas and fry till golden-brown and crunchy – about 15 minutes.

Remove the chickpeas from the oil and, while they are still hot, mix them with two tablsp  the spices. Let cool and serve.

Keeps for seven to ten day in an airtight container.


Experimenting with glutenfree bread again

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100 g coconut flour

50 g flaxseed flour

50 g pumpkin seeds

20 g sesame seeds

30 g dried currants (only because I had some leftover that needed to be used)

2 tblsp of the best cocoa powder money can buy (I use Aduna’s)

1 heaped tsp cinnamon (Ceylon/Sri Lanka – not cassia)

1 tblsp chili flakes

1 tsp salt

A healthy dose of freshly ground black pepper

A heaped tblsp baking powder


Mix all of the above together


2 eggs and 2 egg whites – whisked

2 tblsp coconot oil

3 heaped tblsp almond butter


Mix together, then add to the dry ingredients, mix well and add water till you have a thick porridge.

Put in two small to medium-sized, greased baking tins and bake at 170 C for 30 minutes.

Convertible roast leg of lamb

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NOTE: you need to start the day before you want to serve it.

The meat becomes very tender when marinaded and cooked this way.

If there are leftovers, blend the marinade and juices assembled in the pan, dice the meat and add , to make a lamb curry. When reheated the meat becomes even more tender.

A 3-3.5 kg leg of lamb (in Berlin easiest found in Turkish supermarkets or butchers).

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 heaped tblsp coriander seeds

1 heaped tsp black pepper corns

Seeds from 6 cardamom pods

3 cinnamon sticks (Ceylon or Sri Lanka – NOT cassia)

3 dl yoghurt

8-10 garlic cloves

8-10 cm fresh ginger

150 g ground almonds

Juice of 1 lemon

Chili – any way, shape or form, whatever you have in the house, and to taste

2 tsp salt


The day before you want to serve the dish, cut deep slashes in the meat on all sides.

Grind the spices. Blitz the ginger and garlic in a small food processor with a bit of water.

Mix all ingredients together and rub all over the meat and into every cut and cranny. Put in a solid plastic bag suitable for storing food, or a snugly fitting bowl and cover. Refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 180 Celcius. Place lamb in a deep baking tray. Add about 1.5 dl water to the bottom of the pan. Bake for 2.5 to 3 hours.

Pumpkin curry with black-eyed beans and coconut milk

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1 kg pumpkin or butternut sqash, cut into large chunks

Olive oil to drizzle

1 tblsp garam masala

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tblsp olive oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 green chilis, slit lengthways

1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

500 g (after soaking and cooking) black-eyed beans

150 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 x 400 ml tin coconut milk


Place pumpkin pieces in a bowl, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with garam masala, salt and pepper. Mix to coat evenly and arrange in an oven-proof plate in a single layer. Roast at 180 degrees until the pumpkin is soft and tender.

Heat olive oil in a large pan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the chilies and the onion and cook till the onion is soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the beans, mix well, and add the tomatoes. Cook for another couple of minutes.

Now add the turmeric, a good pinch of black pepper, 1 tsp salt and the coconut milk. Heat gently and add the pumpkin. Cover and heat through, checing for salt and chili.




My first “First Friday ……” chicken curry

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For one kilo of chicken thigh meat (without skin and bones – METRO has it)

3 tblsp olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 (real) cinnamon sticks

2 large onions, peeled and chopped

6 cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated

6 cloves garlic, crushed

Chili to taste, for example 1 tsp chili powder, or 2 fresh chilies

1 tsp salt

200 g tinned tomatoes or tomato passata

2 tblsp tomato concentrate

1,5 tsp ground cumin

A half tsp ground turmeric

3 tblsp full-fat yoghurt

1 tsp garam masala


Heat the oil and fry cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks shortly. Then add the onions and cook on medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.

Blend the ginger, garlic, chilies and salt with just enough water to make a coarse paste.

Add the paste to the onions and simmer for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomato and cook for a few minutes to a thick paste, stirring occasionally.

Then add the tomato concentrate and the rest of the spices. Simmer.

Whisk the yoghurt and incorporate it, once tblsp at a time. Cook through and let all the flavours meld.

Add the chicken and simmer for arund 30 minutes. Before serving, add the garam masala and heat through.

“White” lamb curry

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Spice blend for 1 kilo of lamb cubes:

2 tblsp fennel seeds

Seeds from 1 tblsp green cardamom pods

1 tsp cloves

1 (real) cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

Dry roast all of the above for a minute or two until lightly toasted. Then grind to a powder.

Mix the powder well with the lamb and 4 cm grated ginger, five cloves garlic finely crushed, and 100 g full-fat yoghurt. Marinate for at least half an hour.

Blend 100 g cashew nuts to a paste with 1 tblsp boiling water.

Heat 100 g ghee over medium heat and soften (do not brown) one medium-sized onion, coarsely chopped. Add the meat with all the marinade and enough water to almost cover the meat.

Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Add a heaped tsp salt and 1 tsp ground seeds from green cardamom pods.

Add the cashew nut paste and 50 ml double cream. Add water if needed. Heat through before serving.

Fish does not have to be boring if you cook it with spices, fennel and yoghurt

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600 g fish in large chunks

Blend one half tsp turmeric powder, 2 tsp ground mustard seeds, 2 tsp ground coriander seeds, 1 tsp ground cumin, chili to taste, a knob of chopped fresh ginger, 3 large cloves garlic and a dl of water to a paste.

Heat 5 tblsp olive oil and fry a (real) cinnamon stick, five green cardamom pods and three cloves for a minute, then add two medium onions, halved and finely sliced, and simmer for about ten minutes, till the onions start to turn light brown.

Add the spice mixure and sauté, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes, adding more water if necessary.

Whip 2 dl full-fat yoghurt and add to the spice mixture and stir well.

Then add two fennel bulbs, trimmed and finely sliced. Cook till the fennel starts to soften.

Carefully fold in the fish and cook for a minute or more, depending on the fish and size of the pieces.

Too many dates left over? Date and tamarind paste chutney

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400 g dried dates, destoned and roughly chopped

1 dl tamarind paste

1 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cumin

Chili to taste

3 dl water

Blend everything, adjust flavour to be sweet, sour, salty and (chili) hot all at once. Refrigerate. Try not to eat it all at once.

Ground lamb and chickpeas in spicy cashewnut sauce

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lambchickpeasMany years ago, I won third prize in Politiken’s meatsauce competion (ten bottles of very nice redwine) for sending in this recipe :-).

Before and after that, it has been an old faithful dug out from time to time since then, and I last served it at my third house-warming party in early December 2016 (following a late-afternoon glass or two of glögg, some of my own interpretation of panforte, home-made marshmallows, and some goodies from Leysieffer in Friedrichstraße).

This time, I needed halal meat (2 kilos) which I had ordered in advance from the very friendly (and very reasonable-priced) Fleischerei Kasap, Kottbusser Straße 7.

I served it accompanied by aubergine in a tomato and ginger sauce, and white and brown rice.


4 tblsp olive oil

375 g onion, finely chopped

2 tsp or more garlic, finely chopped

1 tblsp fresh ginger, chopped

2 tsp cumin, roasted and ground

2 tsp coriander, roasted and ground

1 tsp turmeric

Chili in some form or other, to taste

2 bayleaves

1 kilo ground lamb

500 g tomatoes, peeled and chopped

3 tblsp cashew nut butter

500 g dried chickpeas, soaked and boiled (keep approx. 1,5 dl of the water)

Brown the onions slowly, stirring regularly, till they start to caramellise (takes about 20 minutes)

Add garlic and ginger and fry, stirring, for another couple of minutes.

Turn up the heat a bit, and add the spices, fry for about a minute, mixing well.

Add the meat and stir till it is no longer red.

Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, tomatoes, cashew nut butter, chickpeas and water.

Turn heat down and simmer 45-60 minutes till the dish has thickened. Stir from time to time and add more water if needed.


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I first met Sulaiman in February 2016 when my new flat in Berlin was being renovated and he was one of the workmen. I learnt that he had fled from Syria in July 2015 and was curious to know more, also about his current situation, in case there was something I could do to help. Back then, between his almost-non-existent, and my rusty, German, communication was difficult but the other workmen helped, and I also got help from another Syrian who already had job, accommodation, and good German.

Sulaiman was desperately looking for somewhere to stay other than in a camp where life can be extremely difficult. His wife and daughters were in a camp in Lebanon, waiting for a visa to join him in Berlin.

It made a big impression on me that he was able to turn up every day with a smile on his face, and it was a pleasure to listen to the quiet Arabic-German language exchange whenever they were working in my flat.

Since then, I have heard more about his flight from Damaskus, where he had his life, and where he lost everything (except his wife and daughters of whom he is clearly very proud), and at one of my house-warming parties he told some of us about his gruelling journey – on foot, then like sardines in a tin in a truck for four days, then likewise on a boat until they were picked up by a container-carrier, then by train from Italy to Berlin, then “living” outside LAGESO (the German authority for refugees) for many days to have his case processed. In other words, a “classic” story which we all hear about all the time, directly and in the media.

His initial accommodation was in one small room which he shared with five other male refugees of different nationalities and without going into detail, tensions arose on a daily basis. The situation was becoming untenable and through his employer, he found a room which he was able to use all by himself, very small (from what I have heard, tiny does not cover it) but at least he could be private and get a full night’s sleep every night and thus be able to hold on to his job.

Sulaiman went to German class every day, but said that the teacher was not very good (there is a severe shortage of trained German teachers here) and he felt he learnt a lot more during the workday. Any which way, communication has become a lot easier.

Needless to say, he was sorely missing his family – wife and two daughters aged six and seven. Earlier this week, he sent me a text message to tell me that a couple of weeks ago, they were FINALLY reunited in Berlin. In terms of collecting heart-warming moments in my life, that one certainly comes close to the top of my list.

Today they are coming to lunch! I am so looking forward to meeting them. I also have not seen Sulaiman for a while since there is not much more work to be done in may flat, and the most recent house-warming party is already a couple of months away.

How do you pick up where you left off after 18 months, especially considering what they have been through in the meantime? How do you heal, individually and as a family, while at the same time tackling the emotional, practical and financial challenges ahead? How are the girls coping? How about accommodation? I am hoping to learn a lot more about that in the future while finding out how I can help. But first: lunch.

By the way, if you are in Berlin and looking for halal meat, Istanbul Supermarket, Kottbusser Tor, is good. There is also a butcher round the corner in Kottbusser Straße. (I am not sure I approve of the method, but until I know how strict – or not – my guests are, I am willing to use halal-butchered meat).

This is some of what we are having:



Ten chicken pieces (I am using thighs and drumsticks)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground Ceylon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Olive oil
2 brown onions, sliced
100 grams ginger, cut into matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 small red chillies, or to taste
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 tablespoons honey
300 ml chicken or vegetable stock
½ bunch coriander, leaves only

Coat the chicken pieces in the mixture of salt, cumin, cinnamon, pepper and turmeric.

Brown the chicken pieces on all sides in the olive oil. Remove chicken and add onion, ginger, garlic and chili and cook for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes, cumin seeds and thyme and cook for another couple of minutes.

Return chicken and add the lemon juice and zest, honey, stock powder and enough water to just cover the chicken.

Cover and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer for another ten to 15 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through, and the sauce is slightly reduced.

Stir in the coriander and serve with couscous or rice.




100 g onion, chopped

At least one clove garlic, chopped

1 chili, chopped

1 lemon

400 g aubergine, cut in 2 cm dice

50 g dates, quartered

50 g hazelnuts, coarsely chopped and dry-roasted

1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted and ground

1 tsp sumak

1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, roasted and ground

1 tsp coriander seeds, roasted and ground

Olive oil

1 tblsp tomato paste

300 ml chicken or vegetable stock

Heat the oil and lightly fry cumin, sumak, cardamom and coriander. Add onion and garlic and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add aubergine and chili for another couple of minutes. Add stock and tomato paste, stir, cover and simmer for about ten minutes.

Add nuts and dates, stir well, turn off heat and let sit for ten minutes.

Serve with rice or couscous and yoghurt mixed with herbs (f.ex. mint).